October 2 – 7
Monday, October 2 Acts 2:42-47
“The believers met together”
This passage gives us a picture of early Christian community life. In addition to being devoted to the Lord, Christians are also devoted to fellowship, even though it has a lower level of authority over their lives. According to the Bible the entire Christian life, including spiritual growth, battling sin and Satan, and serving God, are intended to be done in community. This is so because Christianity is by nature a community religion. Paul says, “In Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5).
We get together not only because it is helpful, but also because we are a part of the body of Christ. In the preface to one of his collections of hymns that he compiled for the Methodists, John Wesley wrote, “The Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social religion, no holiness but social holiness.” The body of Christ is incomplete without us and we are incomplete without the body of Christ. As did the early church, we gather together today to worship God, to hear the Word preached, to share together in the Lord’s Supper, and to pray with and for each other.
I thank you, Lord, for the Christian community of which I am a part. Amen.
Tuesday, October 3 Matthew 28:16-20
Even as one is called from among the nations to begin life as a disciple, one must in turn follow the Lord through baptism and through obedience to Jesus’ teaching. The participle “baptizing” describes the activity by which a new disciple identifies with Jesus and his community, and the participle “teaching” introduces the activities by which the new disciple grows in his or her life of following Jesus in order to become like Jesus. These activities of “baptizing” and “teaching” are undertaken within the fellowship of believers.
Disciples are to be baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The Father, Son and Holy Spirit form a community within the Godhead, being in relationship with one another and loving one another. One illustration of this community is three persons joined hand-in-hand in a circle. To be baptized in this triune name indicates that one has been brought into its relationship – that one has joined the circle, so to speak – becoming a member of the community of God.
I praise you, Lord, for including me in your heavenly community. Amen.
Wednesday, October 4 Galatians 2:6-10
“They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles”
In the economy of the Kingdom of God all persons are of equal value. The gospel is relevant to all. It can and should be made indigenous to every racial, cultural, and national setting. The outcome of Paul’s visit with the Christians in Jerusalem was recognition that Paul’s ministry with Gentiles and Peter’s ministry with Jews were equally needed and effective. The leaders in Jerusalem – James, John and Peter – perceived the grace of the Lord Jesus working in Paul and Barnabas among the Gentiles, and they affirmed their ministry.
The early Christians knew that “man does not live by bread alone,” but they also recognized that he does not live without bread. Along with the agreement that the gospel to the Gentiles was committed to Paul, and to the Jews was committed to Peter, went the request that Paul and Barnabas should continue to remember those who are poor among the Christians. Here is a critical concept for understanding Christian giving: because we belong to Christ we belong to each other. We are one body, and the needs and concerns of one are the concerns of all.
May I care as much for my fellow Christian, Lord, as you care for me. Amen.
October 2 – 7
Thursday, October 5 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
“I hear that there are divisions among you”
Since Communion in the church today is usually in the context of a worship service, it is hard for us to visualize the circumstance Paul was addressing. The early church had developed a very lovely tradition in connection with the observance of the Lord’s Supper. They had a meal that was called a Love Feast to which each member brought what he or she was able to share. The resources were then pooled, and the whole church sat down to a common meal which provided a beautiful picture of the oneness they shared in Christ. Then, in connection with the meal, the Lord’s Supper was celebrated.
Several things had happened in the Corinthians church to take away from the Love Feast whatever love it had and to create a situation so bad that Paul rebuked them strongly. When they met, instead of being one family, they tended to divide up into separate groups. Also, there were some people who were having so much to drink that they were becoming drunk, and others began to eat without waiting for everyone to be present, thus leaving little or no food for others.
United in love, Lord, we will care for one another. Amen.
Friday, October 6 Luke 11:1-4
“Teach us to pray”
The request for instruction about prayer leads Jesus to teach them a version of what has become known as the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer’s name is only half the story. It is called the Lord’s Prayer since it comes from the Lord, but it is really the disciples’ prayer, expressing their common needs and sense of togetherness. Here is a community dependent on God and united in prayer before him for even the most basic needs of life. Disciples who pray in this way are in touch with God and in touch with one another.
The prayer as a whole reflects a disciple’s total reliance on God and his care. Whether it is in the circumstances that lead to his control of history, the provision of basic needs like food, or spiritual protection, the disciple knows that God’s presence is an absolute necessity. Thus the prayer bonds the disciple to God and, when prayed together in community, it bonds disciples to one another. The journeys of believers’ lives are to be walked hand in hand with God, and hand in hand with one another.
In prayer, Lord, I am united with you and with fellow Christians. Amen.
Saturday, October 7 Romans 12:3-8
“We belong to each other”
An important dimension of spiritual experience is the fact that when many people become related to Christ, they must develop their relationship with each other. The environment in which these relationships operate is the assembly of believers – the local church. Paul, whose ministry to the Gentiles was characterized by the formation of churches, loved to use the human body as a striking analogy of the functions of the church.
Our natural tendency to selfishness and individualism militates against the concept of the body of Christ, but the mind that is being renewed by God’s Spirit is taking on a different attitude. When Christ was on earth, he inhabited a body similar to our physical bodies. So varied were the abilities and ministries of the Lord that it would be ludicrous to expect any one individual to even begin to emulate his ministry. But when many people come together as his body, they can collectively demonstrate the multiplicity of ministries which he longs to perform through their united efforts.
Together as your people, Lord, we can continue your ministry in the world. Amen.